Clear (formerly Clearwire) is actively rolling out their WiMax service and I was lucky to get my hands on a demo unit to test. Installation is a no-brainer. One thing I was told was to download the driver from the Clear.com website. Of course this assumes you have a pre-existing Internet connection. I had to do this because the thumb drive that comes with the unit had an old version of the driver. Once downloaded, I disconnect from my Internet connection, plug in my Clear modem and launch the Clear Connection Manager. The connection manager finds the modem and connects. It's that simple. So the first thing I do is run a speed test. This TWTelecom site provides servers in Honolulu and Los Angeles. As you can see the download speeds from LA are quite impressive. I also tried the Honolulu server and surprisingly had a slower download speed of about 6.4Mbps. Both uploads were similar. I'll leave it running to see how it fairs. One complaint, the drivers for the WiMax modem supports Mac OSX 10.5 and 10.6. I have a laptop running OSX 10.49 (Tiger, PowerPC). So I am out of luck for my PowerBook (albeit old). Drivers are also available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
This past week Clearwire held a WiMax launch event at the Plaza Club to announce their plans to rollout their broadband wireless service. This service has been highly anticipated every since Clearwire acquired the 2.5GHz frequency license on Oahu and Maui and formed a highly publicized merger with Sprint in 2008. Clearwire's pre-WiMax offering carved out a small percentage of the broadband market place because of its relatively slow download and upload speeds and clunky wireless modem. Clearwire did offer a pre-WiMax PC card but the pricing seem high compared to cable modem and DSL options. All of this will soon be a thing of the past as the true WiMax offering becomes available. Based on the speed tests that Clearwire was demonstrating, the modem was getting 5M down/2.7M up on a residential service and 10M down/3.1M up on a business class service. Granted these speeds are based on an uncongested network but I am hopeful that once the service becomes available commercially, we will see multi-meg download speeds and at least a 1Meg upload capability. The WiMax modems were also a nice, compact form factor, just a little bigger than a USB thumb drive. The real question is what will the pricing be for this WiMax service. You are not going to see any official pricing from Clearwire until the service is commercially available in Nov 2009 but I did hear price points like $30/month for the basic offering and up to $70/month for the 10M business class service. If Clearwire (or their soon to be new name Clear) can meet the basic DSL speeds of 3M down/1M up at the or better it, the $30 price point might be something to consider. Especially if you are getting true mobility with it. In the Bay Area a lot is being invested in this new 4G service. WiMax will get at least a couple of years head start on AT&T and Verizon's LTE 4G service. Clearwire along with Sprint has some major investors looking to advance this standard. Google, Intel, Time Warner, Comcast and Cisco are all investors. Clearwire has set up an innovation network in the Bay Area covering a 20 square mile area right in Silicon Valley to encourage broadband wireless application development. Interestingly Google's partnership is behind a content play called Clear365. Obviously they see a lot of content getting created as a result of this mobile broadband network. Personally I wish there was an Innovation Network here between Bishop St. and UH Manoa. Now wouldn't that be interesting.